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Internal Dynamics of the Eastern Bloc

Raja Menon

By Rajeshwari Pillai Rajagopalan
Knowledge World, New Delhi, 2012, pp. 367, Rs. 988.00


If the world has a ‘West’ and an ‘East’ , it is fairly well established that the center of gravity is shifting to the East. The author goes a bit deeper into this conclusion to say that the East is not a peaceful homogenous bloc. There is according to Rajagopalan, military growth amongst them that is fuelling insecurity. Whether the military growth led insecurity would lead these four nations —the US, China, Russia and Japan to clash, is the subject of the last chapter thereby leading her to the title ‘Clashing Titans’. There is an unusual assumption at the heart of the book, and that is the theory that military growth has an autonomous element that may not be a stately and logical process whereby states have governments that firmly control defence budgets and thereby make the growth of their armed forces subservient to a grand strategic policy. Rajagopalan’s theory is not entirely new, and harks back to, for instance, the military growth of Welhelmine Germany and the High Sea Fleet that drove the Anglo-German rivalry, which was otherwise devoid of economic or diplomatic causes, and eventually led to the First World War. As Rajagopalan says, ‘what shape the Asian strategic framework will take depends on a number of parameters, ranging from economic might, politico-strategic weight to military muscle. However military capabilities and strategies can create suspicions and distrust’, and further ‘military strategy of a country is an important indicator of its intentions and objectives ….’ According to Rajagolapan, Asia is currently going through an unprecedented phase of military modernization. As a result, she feels that these Asian giants are condemned to ‘witness a period of intense competition and rivalry in the coming decades’. Readers will wonder in the earliest stages of the book as to why India has been excluded. The explanation comes in the introduction—that in India’s case ‘ it can be reasonably concluded that it will clash only with a military that may march to its borders’. This contention and all that it implies will be discussed later.   The second chapter is on the Rise of the Dragon, where Rajagopalan spends the first part on the ongoing competition between an economically declining US and a growing China. According to her the Chinese believe that all tension in the world is created by the hegemonial behaviour of the USA, which will continue for a couple of decades until ...

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